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What a Difference a Mom Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Mom Leaves on Her Son's Life

What a Difference a Mom Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Mom Leaves on Her Son's Life

by Kevin Leman

Learn More | Meet Kevin Leman
You panic. “I don’t know a thing about boys!” Ah, but you will. You’ve always dreamed of having that precious little daughter—one who is a little replica of you. You dream of the close relationship you’ll have as mother and daughter, watching her taking her first step, buying her first tutu for her ballet recital, arranging her hair for her first date . . . And then you show up at the doctor’s office for your sonogram. “What’s that?” you say, pointing at a little something you can’t quite place on the blurry black-and-white image. And the doc says, “That’s a penis.” You frown, not understanding. “My daughter’s got a penis?” Then realization dawns. “A boy?” Inside you start to panic. What do I do with a boy? I don’t know a thing about boys! Ah, but you will. Maybe you weren’t raised with any siblings, or at least with any brothers. Perhaps your dad was MIA, so you didn’t get much guy influence in your house. Or maybe you did have a brother, but you didn’t understand him then . . . or now. Or perhaps you’re already thrown into the process of bringing up your boy. He might be an infant you recently birthed or adopted, and you’re congratulating yourself because you just figured out how to strategically place the Pampers so you don’t get those early-morning or late-night surprise showers when you change his diaper. Good for you! You’re on the road to success already. Your son might be a toddler who has recently told you in that determined tone you know means business, “By self, Mom. I do it by self.”

Perhaps your son will soon be going off to preschool or kindergarten. You can’t help but think, My baby’s leaving the nest. Half of you looks forward to the break (and the quiet!), but the other half mourns your son going off somewhere— anywhere—without you. Then there’s your nine-year-old, who used to be so close and affectionate but now is backing off a bit. He even asked you the other day to walk a few steps behind him and said, “Please, Mom, don’t hug me in front of the guys.” And your adolescent son? The one who eats cereal in a bowl you could put a bowling ball in? You’re a little tired of hearing a grunt and then a door slam in response to your “How was your day?” Picking up sweaty socks from his jungle of a bedroom isn’t your idea of a fun afternoon either. Then there’s your high schooler. The one who shaves but doesn’t always use deodorant. Yeah, that one. The same one who gets annoyed when you do the “sniff test” before he walks out the door to school. Sometimes you wonder if you would matter in his life at all if you weren’t holding the car keys. Let’s face it. There are times you’re really stumped about why your son does what he does. Why he says what he says. And what’s he really thinking? You haven’t got a clue. Sometimes your son is just such a . . . boy. Boys and girls sure are different, aren’t they? I just saw five seventh-grade girls yesterday, talking nonstop and clustered together like a gaggle of geese. The seventh-grade boys? They were strutting like roosters single file behind those girls, acting cooler than cool, high-fiving each other every once in a while in a show of masculine bravado. Then I caught a glimpse of the second and third graders on the playground. The girls all resembled a covey of quail, traveling in flocks, clucking and hugging. The boys? In the five minutes I watched, three of them were pushing and yelling right in each other’s faces, and two more were whacking each other hard on the shoulder. Another boy a little farther down the field got tackled by three other guys in a roughand- tumble game of football.

Besides the easy-to-see physical trait differences, there are lots of emotional and mental differences too. As a girl yourself, you might not always understand your boy, but he’ll always be your boy. Your son is altogether different from you, but when it comes to him, you’re Mama Bear. May God help anyone who says anything negative about your little cub. They could easily lose an arm. But you want to know something else? Of all the people in the world, you, Mom, make the biggest difference in your son’s world. He may not act like it. (In fact, he may act far from it!) Yet when it comes right down to who’s the most important to your son, it’s you. You see, your son is hiding a secret from you. He’ll never reveal it to you straight out, so I’ll say it plainly. Your boy wants to please you. And that driving need will stay with him for a lifetime. That gives you, Mom, a lot of power in your son’s life. You can set your son up for success in life—or failure. You, and only you, can help him understand what it is to be male and how to form healthy relationships with other females. After all, if he doesn’t learn that from you, where will he learn it from? I’ll share with you another secret too: males aren’t nearly as complex as females. But their hearts are just as tender and easily hurt. What a Difference a Mom Makes is all about you. It’s about your son. It’s about the relationship the two of you have right now—and the relationship you can have. It’s about understanding the male your boy is and helping to craft him into the man you want him to be when he leaves your nest to fly on his own. It’s about understanding yourself and why you respond to your son the way you do. And it’s about not only weathering the changes in your relationship as your son grows up, but enjoying the fun along the way as well. The old adage is true: boys will always be boys. But honestly, would you want your boy to be any different? Just don’t forget the secret: how much you matter in your boy’s world.

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